Sunday, 8 July 2018

On Giving Up

So many things I’ve haven’t bothered with. So many things I can’t be arsed with. I’ve just finished writing a fanfic and that elation of completing the first draft has given way, as it always does, to being back on this planet and I’m just so disappointed.

Couple this with my reminder that went off a few days ago; it tells me to check my most recent wave of agents off the list of people who don’t want my novel because (a) they’ve already emailed me back and have politely declined, or more likely (b) they haven’t got back to me at all and their recommended waiting period is up.

Too bad, so sad, move on.

Except I don’t think I will. Not this time.

A long time ago on a continent far, far away, I wrote a space opera consisting of 7 novels. This, as you can imagine, took many years and many more in proof-reading, honing, polishing, etc. I then sent the first one out very carefully to agents - for 5 years.

When I couldn’t find an agent to take it I instead took one agent’s advice: write a one-off, a stand-alone, a bit of fun to get you published. When you have a name, then you can sneak in your sci-fi saga. It worked for Jim Butcher, after all, as he really wanted his fantasy books published, but when he wrote a short about a bloke called Harry Dresden he got both feet successfully in the door.

So I did. I wrote a book. It took me just over a year, and then another one in rewrites, changes, polishing - the usual. And that book is the one I’ve been trying to get published since 2012.

This is where a lot of soul searching comes in.

This is where I realise I’ve been the only one who hadn’t seen something up until now.

This is where I decide it’s not a day to get out of bed.

This is where I give up; I’m done.

You see, everyone telling you one thing for so long, and you soldiering on because you’re bloody-minded with your eyes on the prize, and you believe you can make it happen, and it will happen if you just keep trying - you can only do it for so long. And then one day you stop and wonder why.

Why do I bother? Agents who rely on selling good books to publishers pass on my novels. People in the industry who know what sells and what doesn’t pass on my novels. And I understand that agents and their readers are humans, and all it takes is a bad trip into work on public transport, or an accident with a pet over the weekend, or anything at all that stops a human from feeling the sunshine, and - bam - grumpy bastard is not in the mood to read, let alone like, anything they see at the office that day. And I don’t blame them for it - I really can’t.

But for every agent that’s had a bad day, there must have been one who didn’t. There must have been one who was in a really good mood and picked up my sample chapters when they got in and thought, “Hey ho, what’s this? Let’s give it a try.”

These, I believe, are the agents who got back to me and declined. All the ones who never got back to me? Well if you can’t say anything nice then don’t say anything at all, right?

So it’s come to this: me realising I’m just not that good, and not worth publishing. I should stick to fanfic, where I get poor traffic but at least people press a ‘kudos’ or ‘like’ button from time to time. Sometimes I even get reviews that tell me I made someone smile today, and that’s when I don’t feel completely useless.

And so it goes.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Film review - Solo: A Star Wars Story

Where to begin. Oh, I know:

Warning! Danger, Will Robinson!
Here be SPOILERS for Solo: A Star Wars Story!

Han Solo - Alden Ehrenreich
Let’s get one thing straight: without Harrison Ford, this movie was going to be a tough sell. Having said that, the only thing better than having Harrison Ford is having a 1970s Harrison Ford, and we can never have that again, so it’s time to just suck it up and move on.

Alden Ehrenreich does a good Young Han; not all the mannerisms are there but then we’ve only got Older Han to go on, so perhaps he just hasn’t grown into himself yet. Plus there are enough of the looks, moves and nods to make you believe enough for now. Joonas Suotamo is donning the gigantic Wookiee outfit this time, and he looks and moves like the Chewie we know and love - and the original sound effects don’t hurt at all (yes, he still does The Laugh). Paul Bettany is a suitably dastardly villain, complete with Bond villain facial differences that make you wonder what his backstory is. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a brilliant L3, although I actually could have sworn she was Gwendoline Christie. I loved the conversation she has with Qi’ra in the cockpit of the Falcon. However this is turned on its head later on in a spectacular moment of Mood Whiplash that will haunt me for a few days yet. Poor Lando.

Solo: A Star Wars Story - Lando Calrissian Donald Glover
Speaking of Lando, Donald Glover is a perfect choice and I thought he was ace - just the right amount of swagger and young-boy bravado, thinking he could cheat or talk his way past anyone and anything. I’m pretty sure he had Qi’ra pegged from the get-go, and I hate to say it, but he also started as he meant to go on - and by that I mean backing down from all deals and just taking what he’s bargained out of. Will that man never learn how to say a deal is unacceptable?

Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) was a worthy character but I felt she never really clicked for me - I felt like there could have been more from her, as in more reaction or something that revealed more of her background dealings. All we hear from others is that she’s done ‘many bad things’ and ‘such awful things’ - like what? To whom? When? How come none of the other smugglers had heard of her? How come she doesn't have a code name like Black Widow or something, so that other people get a look on their face like ‘oh shit’ when they realise who she is? A wasted opportunity, perhaps.

But then this movie is supposed to be about Han. And it is - he’s in every scene, it’s all about how he learns to double-cross people, that he can speak Wookiee very very poorly, how he learns to dump cargo, how he gets his Indy Hat - sorry, his iconic blaster - how he meets Chewie, and of course most importantly, how he learns to always shoot first. (THANK YOU.)

The rest of the film meanders a little. Taking a cue from films like Ant-Man or Guardians of the Galaxy, it tries to have a normal heist-and-gangsters type film that happens to have Han Solo in it, but the plot loses its way as it tries to cram in all the iconic moments we need to see in an origin story. How does he get off Corellia? How does he end up soldering for the Empire? Why does he want a ship? How does he meet Chewie? How does he get the Millennium Falcon? All these questions are answered but it feels like the film is checking them off one by one.

It is fun though, and it does distract you from the running time and the ambling gait of much of the film. Yes, they have a mission and a ticking clock, but I didn’t feel urgency to it, and I wasn’t sure what they had to achieve in order to finish the movie. The twist of the coaxium refining place was a good one, but that again was a little wasted as they chose to show more of Woody Harrelson showing not telling than giving you people you could feel for.

Solo: A Star Wars Story - Alden Ehrenreich Joonas Suotamo (Chewie)
One thing that has plagued me for 35 years though - how can you do the Kessel run in only 12 parsecs, when that’s said like it’s fast but parsecs are a measurement of length? Well this film explains that too. That alone is worth points.

There were nods to the original films as well as the newer ones, but one thing that irks is that they’re trying to make Han’s mysterious golden hanging dice A Thing. As far as I know they were some kind of background prop in the original trilogy - I grew up watching those every Christmas on UK telly and by the time I was 10 I could recite all 3 movies without the need for a soundtrack - but I’d never seen them before the most recent films. Now suddenly they’re important and he’s always hanging them on something, giving them to people or keeping them in his trousers. Whether this is to sell trinkets at Disney stores or not I don’t know, but I don’t like people trying to retcon me into believing something when I was there and it wasn’t.

Anyway, that aside, this was a fun romp for most of it, but something seemed to be lacking. It wasn’t the funky, joyful drama of Thor: Ragnarok or the punchy, exciting countdown of Rogue One, but it was enough to make us laugh a few times. Unfortunately a lot of these times were when a famous line or moment was alluded to (“I hate you.” “I know”.) or some tiny prop was shown to be the shiny new version of the old battered one we grew up with in the original trilogy.

Verdict: 8/10; good enough but not an instant hit with me, I’m afraid. And some of those points were mined from my nostalgia, not for the film itself.

That’s all for now - there are more movies coming soon but for now I have study courses to finish and a big weekend in Manchester to prepare for.


Monday, 21 May 2018

Revengers Assemble: an Infinity War fix-it fic

Loki Tom Hiddleston - what have you done now?
I’ve actually done some writing. Amazing what some major blockbusters, a change of manager at work and a dearth of entertainment caused by the season finales of all your shows in the same week will do to you. Ladies, gentlemen, boths and neithers, I give you:

Title: Revengers Assemble

Rated T/Teen & Up for some naughty language, some violence and conduct unbecoming, revenge, fix-it fic, and hopefully some stabbings.

SPOILERS for Infinity War. Right after the opening salvo, a certain not-dead someone and a ragtag bunch of what's left of Asgard (and some gladiators) will have to stop Thanos. How hard could it be?

I do not own any Marvel characters, names, likenesses or the suggestion thereof. This is all for fun, not for profit. Unless you add me to any favourites lists or leave reviews/comments.

Linky-link-link: HERE at An Archive of Our Own under my name TozaBoma (because they don’t re-edit your stuff later) and HERE at Fanfiction dot net under my name Mardy Lass.

If you even visit the page, I thank you.

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